Washington | President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, tweeting simply “Fidel Castro is dead!” Castro died yesterday night aged 90 after defying the United States during a half-century of iron-fisted rule.
Trump’s shock victory this month has cast uncertainty over two years of moves by President Barack Obama to end more than 50 years of Cold War enmity with the communist island.
Blocked from ending the US embargo on the island by a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama pushed smaller reforms using executive authority.
That means Trump, who takes office on January 20, will be able change course just as easily, potentially reinstating trade and financial restrictions and reversing developments like the resumption of air and cruise-ship travel, and postal service.
“All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” the Republican real estate billionaire said in September.
“Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”
The White House has not yet reacted to Castro’s death, although a statement is expected later today.
The United States restored diplomatic ties with Cuba in July 2015 and a month later re-opened its embassy in Havana.
Obama made a landmark visit to the communist-ruled island in March.
The moves were criticized by many of the politically influential Cuban exiles and their families living in the United States.
Trump’s closest rival in the Republican presidential primary race, Texas Senator Ted Cruz – whose father is Cuban – said on Facebook that Castro’s death “cannot bring back his thousands of victims, nor can it bring comfort to their families.”
“Today we remember them and honor the brave souls who fought the lonely fight against the brutal Communist dictatorship he imposed on Cuba,” Cruz said.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, another conservative Cuban-American who represents southern Florida’s 27th district where many Cuban exiles live, also hailed Castro’s death.
“A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,” she wrote on her website. “We must seize the moment and help write a new chapter in the history of Cuba; that of a Cuba that is free, democratic, and prosperous.”
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